RPT: REVIEW - Control Of US Senate Boiling Down To 8 Tight Races, Dems Poised To Retain House

(@FahadShabbir)

RPT: REVIEW - Control of US Senate Boiling Down to 8 Tight Races, Dems Poised to Retain House

About eight close Senate races that are tightening by the day will likely determine if the Democrats end up controlling both chambers of US Congress, with polls showing the Party of Jefferson already well-positioned to maintain majority rule in the House

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 22nd October, 2020) About eight close Senate races that are tightening by the day will likely determine if the Democrats end up controlling both chambers of US Congress, with polls showing the Party of Jefferson already well-positioned to maintain majority rule in the House.

On November 3, most US voters will cast ballots in both the presidential and congressional elections. Early voting has been ongoing for weeks in many states, with more than 40 million ballots already cast, outpacing 2016 by a factor of six. US election officials on Wednesday said given the massive influx of mail-in ballots, the results of the vote may not be known on election night.

35 of the seats in the 100-member Senate are up this year and all 435 House seats will be on the ballot. Senators serve six-year terms with roughly 1/3 of seats up for election every two years while members of the House are elected for 2-year terms.

CONTROL OF CONGRESS DOWN TO 8 RACES

The Republicans currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate but most prognosticators are saying the Democrats are likely to flip a net four seats to secure a 1-seat majority as a result of the November 3 election.

Republicans have controlled the Senate for close to six years now. In fact, before the 2018 mid-terms the Republicans had control of both houses of Congress. The last time the Democrats controlled both houses was during then-President Barack Obama's first two years in office (2009-2011).

According to poll aggregator Realclearpoltics.com (RCP), if the election were held today, the Democrats would end up with 51 seats, although eight races are in the "toss up" category. The RCP has each party with a lock on 46 seats. Hence, whichever party can win at least five of the eight toss-up races will take control of the Senate. If they each win four of the toss-ups, the Senate would end up split 50-50. The vice president, as president of the senate, would cast the tying vote if necessary.

The eight races comprise six Republican and two Democratic incumbents. The Democrats are leading in the polls in five of the races - three as challengers (Iowa, Maine, North Carolina) and two as incumbents (Michigan, Minnesota). Republican incumbents in Georgia, Montana and South Carolina are ahead in the polls.

Among the Republican incumbents who are most vulnerable is Iowa's Joni Ernst, who is down 1.8% to Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield, a businesswoman with farm roots. Greenfield has been ahead in six polls published since mid-September, ranging from as low as 2% to as high as 12%. In fact, Greenfield was ahead in the RCP average by 4.8% earlier this week before it was dragged down by two polls published on Wednesday that showed Ernst up by 1 percent. The FiveThirtyEight.com simulator says Greenfield has a 56% chance of winning by 1 point.

Ernst is among the Republican incumbents who some believe might be hurt - especially among women voters - for embracing President Donald Trump and his policies. Trump won Iowa by 9% in 2016, but Democratic challenger Joe Biden currently has a 1 point lead in the RCP.

Ernst, who also touts growing up on a farm, in a debate last week was unable to answer a question about the price of soybeans (she guessed $5.50 per bushel when it is actually $10.05). Immediately after the debate Greenfield tweeted "a Senator from Iowa should know the price of soybeans." An NBC political analyst said familiarity with local agricultural concerns has traditionally been important to Iowa voters.

In Maine, Senator Susan Collins, the next Republican incumbent most under threat, is trailing Democratic challenger Sara Gideon by 4.

2%, according to the RCP average. FiveThirtyEight.com has Gideon with a 63% chance of winning by a 3 percent margin.

Collins, who is trying to get reelected to a fifth term, came under fire from some constituents for backing Trump's Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanagh, who was confirmed despite sexual assault allegations. However, Trump recently targeted Collins in a twitter attack after rumors surfaced that she would oppose the president's latest Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, whom the Republicans want to get nominated before the election.

Senator Thom Tillis, who is seeking a second term, is down 2.4% in North Carolina to Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and military officer. The challenger has a 65% chance of winning by 3 points, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is also in a fierce struggle, although a lack of polling has made the race hard to assess. Graham, a notorious anti-Russian hawk, has been in Congress for about 25 years - 17 as a Senator and the remainder as a member of the US House. A New York Times/Sienna poll released last week showed him up by 6 percent following a survey that had him tied with the challenger.

Graham is likely to feel the pressure intensified with less than 2 weeks until election day. Rival Jamie Harrison, the first Black chairman of South Carolina's Democratic party, announced earlier this month that he had raised $57 million in the previous quarter, shattering an all time fundraising record. Harrison's campaign has so far spent $52 million on television and digital advertising this year compared to $19 million for Graham, AP said citing data from Advertising Analytics.

Two other Republican incumbent senators who are leading tight races, according to the RCP, include Montana's Tom Daines (+3.3%) and Georgia's David Perdue (+0.9%). FiveThirtyEight.com forecast that all both have a probability of 70% or higher of winning.

Two Democratic incumbents are also leading their races including Michigan's Gary Peters (+5.2%) and Minnesota's Tina Smith (+7.2%), the RCP shows. Peters has about an 80% chance of winning by 6 points and Smith 93% by 12, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

The Democrats, who currently have a 35-seat majority in the House of Representatives (232-197), are predicted by many experts and pollsters - including FiveThirtyEight, the Cook Report, CNN and Inside Elections, to add anywhere from 7 to 10 seats to their advantage.

The RCP has the Democrats with a lock on 215 races, only three short of a majority, and the Republicans 186.

33 seats are in the toss up category including 18 Democratic incumbents and 15 Republican incumbents.

House races actually provide experts with valuable data that can shine light on the state of the presidential race, according to Cook Political Report's David Wasserman. The analyst in a tweet last week said in the final weeks of 2016, they observed massive denial in the Hillary Clinton camp about district-level polling that showed Trump breaking through including "flashing red warning signs" in areas with large white working-class populations.

This time around, Wasserman said he is seeing Democratic "paranoia," given the same data is consistently showing Trump running well behind his 2016 margins.

Not unlike the senate contests, the Democrats are raising and spending much more money in the House races than their Republican rivals. Democrats have brought in $109 million through the end of September versus Republicans who raked in $66 million, the Center for Responsive politics reported on October 20.